McDonald’s All-American Game festivities tipped off yesterday, and future Kentucky Wildcats Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney made sure their presence was known from the jump.
The Wildcat duo, both suiting up for the West squad this week, got things started on Monday morning with their first practice, followed by a brief media opportunity. Yesterday evening, Maxey and Whitney each participated in the Powerade Jam Fest event, where they both turned heads.
Let’s dive right in.
With over 90 NBA scouts in Atlanta watching the top high school basketball players in America compete, both Wildcats participating this week let those watching know that they are two of the most impressive players in high school basketball.
For Maxey, it was his elite shooting ability and competitive nature that had onlookers fascinated.
Here are just a few of the reactions:
I’d say Kentucky commit SG Tyrese Maxey (@TyreseMaxey) caught all the NBA scouts eye’s this morning. A pure stroke in his shot, brings great energy on the floor, and is able to knock down jumpers from basically anywhere on the floor #MCDAAG. Potential one-and-done.
— Samad H. (@Mod_Hines) March 25, 2019
I love watching Tyrese Maxey. Kentucky fans are going to have so much fun watching him and his consistent energy on the floor. Just an infectious positive dude to be around.
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) March 25, 2019
Here is Maxey’s entire highlight tape from this morning, where his ridiculous shooting stroke separated himself from his peers:
As for Whitney, while his athleticism and defensive intensity is always the center of attention, his improved jump shot was also quite impressive.
Here is one look at it:
Stay tuned for our upcoming documentary on him called ‘The Year of the Dragon’ dropping after the Dance. pic.twitter.com/GT1869PU8U
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 25, 2019
And another look:
Kahlil Whitney from deep at McDonald’s practice… pic.twitter.com/RpqKcsvSGM
— Ben Roberts (@BenRobertsHL) March 25, 2019
As early as last year, Whitney had a Hamidou Diallo-like hitch in his shot that really hurt his ability to find consistency as a shooter. He has always been able to drive and finish in the paint, but opponents could neutralize him a bit on the floor by sagging off of him and forcing him to work from the outside.
Now that he has tweaked his form and has developed that muscle memory, he has truly become a threat on all three levels of the floor. Every time I watch him play (especially now) I see a more-advanced Jaylen Brown at this stage. Going into college, Brown was a low-30s 3-point shooter, and he followed it up with a “meh” 29.4 percent clip in his lone season at Cal-Berkeley.
In the NBA, though, Brown has shot 36.3 percent from three over the course of his career and has become just enough of a consistent threat to keep defenders.
If he’s even an above-average perimeter shooter at Kentucky, the rest of his game will more than make up for it.
As far as media availability is concerned, we only got about ten minutes or so for quick interviews after practice, so it’s slim-pickings with news (from yesterday, at least).
The biggest updates of the day, though, are as follows:
- 2019 five-star forward Matthew Hurt will make a decision on April 19, down to Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Memphis, and Minnesota. He’s still working on visits to Memphis and Minnesota, and he claims all six schools are on equal ground.
- 2019 five-star forward Jaden McDaniels still has no idea where he wants to go and has no timeline for a decision.
- Kahlil Whitney talked about how excited he is to get pushed to the limit by John Calipari in Lexington, says the elite competition makes him want to get on campus as soon as possible.
- Tyrese Maxey believes Kentucky is going to win the national title this year, says he thinks his group can make another run next year. Still recruiting a piece or two to close out the 2019 class.
As far as light-hearted content is concerned, Jake Rosen of JakeInThePaint.com sat down with Maxey and asked him about his favorite food, movies, music, and more.
You can check that out here:
Caught up with Tyrese Maxey (@TyreseMaxey) after the early morning practice. The future Kentucky Wildcat is a killer on the court and has a personality that leads people to gravitate towards him. He brings an elite package of energy, skill and leadership to the hardwood. pic.twitter.com/030w9Mqa4p
— Jake Rosen (@JakeInThePaint) March 25, 2019
With Media Day taking place this afternoon, we’ll have more time to talk with the players, where I’ll be able to ask more Kentucky-specific questions to those in attendance. Be on the lookout for that in a bit.
Powerade Jam Fest
After practice and media opportunities, we packed into buses and drove to Wheeler High School (EJ Montgomery’s former school) in Marietta, GA for the Powerade Jam Fest.
There, Maxey competed in the Legends and Stars Shootout, where he absolutely dominated the event.
After going 1/2 from the 3-point line (both shots looked good, if we’re being honest), the future Wildcat jogged over to the half-court line and drilled it in one attempt.
Take a look:
— HoopFocus (@TheHoopFocus) March 26, 2019
No one else came close. Maxey ran away with the easy victory in this one.
From there, Kahlil participated in the Slam Dunk Contest, where he unleashed his ridiculous athleticism.
On his first attempt, Superman cape and all, Whitney got Maxey to toss him an alley-oop off the backboard:
Kahlil Whitney gets help from future Kentucky teammate Tyrese Maxey on his first dunk attempt: pic.twitter.com/JdFWneeNUy
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) March 26, 2019
On his second attempt, Whitney went with the self-oop back-scratcher, where his entire head was above the rim.
On his second attempt, Kahlil Whitney gets his whole head above the rim: pic.twitter.com/5igqmHLt31
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) March 26, 2019
Maxey also helped out future Florida Gator Scottie Lewis in his insane dunk attempt:
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 26, 2019
This was the contest-winning dunk from Stanford women’s basketball commit Francesca Belibi:
Only the 2nd woman to EVER win the dunk contest ?
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 26, 2019
Overall, it was a fun event and the Cats looked impressive in the national spotlight.
Evening Media Opportunity
After the Powerade Jam Fest, Maxey, along with Belibi, five-star recruit Cole Anthony, and Notre Dame women’s basketball signee Samantha Brunelle, each talked to the media about their performance.
Maxey, in particular, talked about his Lewis jumping over him in the Dunk Contest, his favorite dunk from the night, and practicing specifically for the half-court attempt in the Legends and Stars Shootout.
Take a look:
Practice will be from 9:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. this morning followed by Media Day from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
I’ll have several updates with all the footage, interviews, and analysis you could ever need throughout the day.
See you then.